St James's Park ★☆☆
A royal park right in the heart of London
What separates the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace from the government officials at Whitehall and the Prime Minster at 10 Downing Street?
Well, democratic elections for one thing. But physically, they are seperated by the long greensward of St James's Park stretching south of The Mall, 53 acres of grass and trees creased by a long lake.
The half mile-long lake is crossed halfway by the Blue Bridge, from which you can peep Buckingham Palace at the western end. At the east end is Duck Island, populated by pelicans since their ancestors were gifted to Charles II by the Russian ambassador in 1664. (They get fed each day at 2:30pm.)
This formerly royal park was reshaped time and again by various monarchs, but took its current form (more or less) in 1827, when the future George IV comissioned John Nash to transform its canal into a lake and its promenades into winding paths. The park was opened to the public in 1887.
Parents: There's also a playground near the west end, south of the lake.
It's a park! Spend as long as you need to relax and regroup for the sightseeing.